Explain this, but without words

Sequential images are used for instruction purpose quite regularly across all kinds of consumer goods. The most outstanding example would be the Ikea instruction inserts which, contrary to popular lore, are extremely clear and helpful if you have even a smidge of visual insight.

In fact, their format is so well-wrought that you can use them for much more intricate activities and algorythms, such as public-key cryptography or how graph scans work. Boffins from TU Braunschweig have compiled a number of Idea (get it?) instructions as illustrations. And even if you don’t really get what they are on about, the visualisation makes a lot clear.

(Illustration by Sándor P. FeketeSebastian Morr, and Sebastian StillerCC by-nc-sa 4.0 – Thanks, Κωνσταντίνος)

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Lettering! Fonts! Starkings!

Comic geekdom doesn’t get a lot more ephemeral than when it’s focused on what’s basically meant to remain unnoticed: the way balloons and captions are lettered. This short (all too short, actually) video covers the evolution of (American) comic book lettering from the Golden Age all the way up to Richard Starkings and other Blambots. I like how it explains why comics are in all caps, and how you can recognize the hand of certain letterers. In fact, that last part could have gone on forever as far as I’m concerned.

It’s quite interesting to see how paper quality forced letterers in a certain direction. When Tintin magazine was started, its founders wanted to offer a more quality-drive, and more reliable alternative for what was basically considered exploitative fodder. They used better paper and, coincidence or not, often used the now-famous Tintin cursive or similar fonts. It rendered the comics more acceptable — you didn’t need to hide them when your stuck-up aunt came to visit. Current incarnations of classic series, like Blake Et Mortimer, still use this technique.

As the comics market grew however, and its readers matured, the typical comics all-caps lettering also snuck in on the pages of the newer titles, such as Buddy Longway or Jonathan, contributing to their edgier nature.

Certain creators or studios have always retained their own lettering though, such as the semi-medieval script that’s used in Les Schtroumpfs.


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Your privacy matters! It does! Really!

Yo, it’s the 25th! Time to get serious with your privacy, people! GDPR is here and here to stay, making money for consultants and lawyers alike and not changing all that much for ordinary folks.

I don’t know how to whip up one of those fancy-pants popups or anything, so you’ll have to read this in a simple post. Here goes.

  1. We use cookies. Yum! Two kinds : Google Analytics ones and Jetpack ones. Couldn’t tell you what they are or how they work — if you want to know, read here and here.
  2. You can email us using the form. Read the instructions, people. You have been warned.
  3. You can reply to posts. In that case, we store your reply and your name. After all, what’s the use of replying if we don’t show it?
  4. You can subscribe to updates for the site. Either thru rss (in which case we don’t know) or via email (in which case we do). In the last case, you will get an email when we actually have an update. Sounds logical, I would think.

That’s it. You won’t hear from us ever again except if you actually do subscribe. Then you get an email every time we do a post. Like this one. Obvs.

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Francavilla on the opioid scandal

It would seem that the New York Times is on a roll these days when it comes to cartoonists. Earlier today they published a rather gripping longread on how prescription opioids silently became the addictive menace they’re currently seen as, and the role of certain companies and their kickback practices played in this evolution. Nostalgia noir illustrator and cartoonist Francesco Francavilla provides the illustrations, which ring conmen, deals and feds as any other crime novel. An effect that’s even heightened with the felt tip pen font that’s used for the bylines.

This interactive piece is only the second in a series of five true crime stories that Francavilla is providing illustrations for. Top notch work!

(Illustration by Francesco Francavilla,  © 2018 The New York Times Company, yet again via Mike)

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Entertainment exploitation and Arthur Fonzarelli

Even though James Kochalka’s recent strip in the New York Times seems to recall a fond memory from his youth, spiced up with some more astute observations made in hindsight as an author, to me it reads like an example of how the entertainment industry exploits everything it produces.

Call me old or naive, but there should be more to culture than making money.

(Illustration by James Kochalka, © 2018 The New York Times Company, one more via Mike)

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Agatha Christie on marriage

In the April 20, 2018 issue of the New York Times, venerable cartoonist and illustrator Edward Sorel highlights a mysterious incident in crime writer Agatha Christie’s life. Or how archaeology is preferable over golf.

(Illustration by Edward Sorel, © 2018 The New York Times Company, via Mike)

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Swarte in flowers

Dutch clear line illustrator and designer Joost Swarte has had some projects with unusual mediums before (tableware, stained class windows, you name it), but this one is really a first.

During the annual Bloemencorso (or Flower Parade), held in the flower-growing districts of Holland, one of the floats celebrated 150 year of theatre in the city of Haarlem. A second float focused on the 50 year anniversary of the Toneelschuur theatre in Haarlem, and was designed by Joost Swarte.

The colours may be a little off-brand for Swarte, but his hand is very obvious in the design of the characters.

(via Joost Swarte Blog, pictures © BlikOp Nederland)

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Robbedoes supports the Red Cross

Every year in April, the Belgian Red Cross organises a funding drive, during which volunteers ask motorists for contributions at traffic lights and road crossings. For 5 Euros they can buy a bumper sticker featuring a favourite television or comic character. In the past stickers were published with Tintin, Astérix and Lucky Luke, and also local luminaries like Kiekeboe and de Rode Ridder.

This year’s model was designed by Flemish cartoonist Charles Cambré and features the characters from the long-running Robbedoes series, as Spirou is known in Dutch, including de Rommelgem count, Kwabbernoot, IJzerlijm and Spip. Together with writer Marc Legendre, Cambré is also the artist of the (as yet) Dutch-only spinoff, Robbedoes Special, which currently counts two titles (that weren’t half bad, actually).

(Robbedoes © Dupuis, 2017)

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Dan Clowes celebrates Superman

On April 14, Dan Clowes’ birthday, and with only months to go to Superman’s 80th birthday, Clowes’ official Twitter presence posted this unpublished strip.

Only Clowes would imagine a Kryptonian birthday to be a day for “sober, clear-eyed accounting of our sorrows and frailties that we may clear the way for an ever-deepening self-knowledge”… Still, happy birthday, Dan!

(Via The Daniel Clowes Reader)

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The Rite of Spring

It’s spring (at last)! And to celebrate the season of new youthful energy, Tom Gauld created a nice cover for the New Yorker featuring all the sounds that spring to mind, from bird sounds to Vivaldi. If you click through to the magazine’s website, you can hear the actual fragments that Gauld’s referencing in the speech bubbles.

(artwork by Tom Gauld © 2018 Condé Nast. All rights reserved)

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